Skip to content

Category Archives: Covert Action

NYU School of Law Event: “‘The Snowden Operation’: A Victory for Privacy Rights or for Russia?”

By
Friday, March 14, 2014 at 11:04 AM

  NYU School of Law hosted a debate yesterday between Edward Lucas, Senior Editor of The Economist and author of The Snowden Operation: Inside the West’s Greatest Intelligence Disaster—which Ben reviewed last month—and Stephen Holmes, Professor at NYU Law. The event was moderated by Ryan Goodman, also of NYU Law. Here is the description of the panel . . .
Read more »

Intelligence Squared US Debate: “The President Has Constitutional Power To Target And Kill U.S. Citizens Abroad”

By
Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 9:50 PM

For the Motion: Alan Dershowitz, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School Michael Lewis, Professor of Law, Ohio Northern University School of Law Against the Motion: Noah Feldman, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project President Has Constitutional Power to Target Americans from Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates on FORA.tv The results are . . .
Read more »

SSCI v. CIA—Three Key Questions

By
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Senator Feinstein’s remarkable floor statement yesterday has thrown further fuel onto an already volatile mix of intelligence and oversight issues related to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s detention and interrogation report. Putting the controversy both outside and inside the SSCI about the substance of the report aside for now, the basic facts as Sen. . . .
Read more »

Did the CIA Violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by Accessing Intelligence Committee Computers?

By
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 7:27 AM

Senator Feinstein recently claimed that the CIA may have violated the federal computer hacking statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, by searching computers used by the Intelligence Committee to conduct CIA oversight. Based on the facts we know so far, I’m skeptical of the claim that the CIA violated the statute. This post explains . . .
Read more »

Senator Feinstein’s Remarks on the CIA-SSCI Document Controversy

By
Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Right now, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Chairman, is speaking out, on the Senate floor, about a well-publicized dispute between the CIA and the SSCI—regarding the latter’s review of documents pertaining to the CIA’s interrogation practices in the years following 9/11, and the CIA’s auditing of Committee staffers’ computer use during the review. . . .
Read more »

Lederman on Secrecy, Nonacknowledgement, and Yemen

By
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 6:15 AM

Marty Lederman has a long post picking apart the errors in last week’s AP story on last December’s drone strike in Yemen.  Along the way he carefully parses the covert action statute, and has interesting things to say about the relationship between secrecy and non-acknowledgment, and how those concepts apply to CIA and DOD.  A . . .
Read more »

What is the Domestic Legal Basis for Planned Cyberattacks in Syria?

By
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 8:12 AM

David Sanger reports that the Pentagon and the NSA planned a sophisticated cyberattack aimed at “the Syrian military and President Bashar al-Assad’s command structure” that “would essentially turn the lights out for Assad.” He also reports that President Obama declined to go forward with the attacks then or since because of uncertainty about the proper role of offensive . . .
Read more »

No “No Spy” Agreements?

By
Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 4:48 PM

President Obama on Tuesday affirmatively stated that the United States does not have any “no spy” agreements with other countries.  Many journalists, scholars, and foreign officials have been laboring under the impression that the United States does have at least some of these agreements.  What’s the source of the disconnect? Readers will recall that discussions of . . .
Read more »

Reactions to Stories on Possible New U.S. Citizen Strike

By
Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 7:18 AM

Some thoughts on this morning’s drone strike news (NYT, WSJ). The NYT says that President Obama’s announcement last May of an intention “to gradually shift drone operations from the C.I.A. to the Pentagon” was designed in part “to make them more transparent.”  The theory, I think, was that CIA strikes are covert and cannot be . . .
Read more »

Congressional Control of Intelligence Programs (sometimes)

By
Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 7:03 PM

In the last ten days, an interesting controversy has bubbled up over congressional control of the drone program.  The quarrel, which has been both internal to the Senate and between the Congress and the Executive, raises some important issues regarding Congress’s ability to control controversial but classified programs (such as the current drone program and . . .
Read more »

Tinker, Tailor, Leaker, Spy: The Future Costs of Mass Leaks

By
Sunday, January 12, 2014 at 6:35 PM

I just came across this excellent article, “Tinker, Tailor, Leaker, Spy: The Future Costs of Mass Leaks,” by David V. Gioe, a former CIA operations officer and a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge.  His question is not about the effect of the Snowden and Manning leaks on past activities, but on the deterrence . . .
Read more »

Most Snowden Documents Concern Current U.S. Military Operations

By
Friday, January 10, 2014 at 11:37 AM

One hears that the worst of the Snowden documents (from the perspective of the USG) have not yet been released, and one wonders what that might mean.  Yesterday’s story that “most of the documents he took concerned current military operations” might provide the beginning of an answer (though I expect that another part of the answer is . . .
Read more »

Assessing the Review Group Recommendations: Part III

By
Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 5:54 PM

In Parts I and II of this series, I focused on the Review Group recommendations from Chapter III of the group’s report. Starting in this post, I turn to the recommendations of Chapter IV, which deal with collection under Section 702 and other authorities directed at non-US persons. This is, to my mind, one of the . . .
Read more »

Covert Action and International Law Compliance

By
Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Last night Jack highlighted certain parts of Caroline Krass’s answers to the Additional Prehearing Questions that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence posed to her.  One of her answers will be of particular interest to international lawyers. One SSCI question asked, “Under what circumstances must covert action involving the use of force comply with treaties . . .
Read more »

Thoughts About the Obama Administration’s Counterterrorism Paradigm in Light of the Al-Liby and Ikrima Operations

By
Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Mary DeRosa and Marty Lederman, both of whom were senior national security lawyers in the Obama administration, have a helpful if somewhat hopeful post at Just Security on the significance of the recent al-Liby and Ikrima capture operations.  The post is long, but I would summarize it as follows (this is my summary, not theirs): . . .
Read more »

Ending the End-of-War Timeline

By
Monday, October 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Nine or so months ago, following  President Obama’s inaugural address assertion that a “decade of war is now ending,” which came on the heels of Jeh Johnson’s speech about the end of war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, Lawfare started the “End-of-War” Timeline.  We felt pretty firmly, as I wrote at the time, that “War is not ending; it is continuing, . . .
Read more »

Is the “Covert Action” in Syria Actually a Covert Action?

By
Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 3:26 PM

I have noted how openly the United States has been leaking information about its covert action to support moderate Syrian rebels – from its inception through the supposed recent ramp-up.  I notice via a post by Marcy Wheeler that the ostensible covert action was discussed openly and explicitly by senior Executive branch officials – the . . .
Read more »

Two Notes on Secrecy v. Transparency in the National Security World

By
Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Two pieces in the news worth noting on the issue of secrecy v. transparency in the U.S. intelligence world.  First, The Guardian reports that former DRNSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden said in London: “It’s clear to me now that in liberal democracies the security services don’t get to do what they do without broad public understanding . . .
Read more »

The Long, Classified War

By
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 9:21 AM

A recent cluster of stories – on al Qaeda’s growth, dispersion, and resilience, on the USG’s increased use of surveillance drones outside of “hot war zones,” on the USG possibly ramping up secret war in Somalia, and on the covert action to arm certain Syrian rebels – got me wondering about the debate in May on the proper scope of the AUMF.  . . .
Read more »

Tools and Tradeoffs: Confronting U.S. Citizen Terrorist Suspects Abroad

By
Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Today, the Brookings Institution released a lengthy paper my colleague Daniel Byman and I have been working on for some time, entitled “Tools and Tradeoffs: Confronting U.S. Citizen Terrorist Suspects Abroad.” The Brookings release is available here. The full report is available here.  We will release audio of the launch event, which was hosted by our colleague . . .
Read more »